Dorset Community Energy is a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society whose aims include financial and educational benefits to schools.
We have developed educational resources to support the schools with solar panel installations financed by Dorset Community Energy.
Education innovation at Charminster CE First School – children teach children!!
Dorset Community Energy (DCE) installed 12kW of solar panels on the roof of St. Mary’s CE First School, Charminster in August 2016 and since then we have helped with energy educational activities. However this year was different. DCE director Pete West spent a day at the school in mid- November 2019 and gave lessons in making spinning paper plate solar models to 3 separate classes of Key Stage 2 pupils (7-9 years old) . The school asked to borrow the solar experiments equipment. On collecting it a few weeks’ later Pete was amazed to find the pupils who attended the sessions with him had followed up by teaching Key Stage 1 pupils (5-7 years old) !!
Climate change presentation at Atlantic Academy Portland- Sept 2019
In early September, Pete West, secretary and a director of Dorset Community Energy, was invited to give a climate change presentation to 100 year 7 pupils at the Atlantic Academy, Portland. John Tomblin, an active member of Transition Town Weymouth and Portland, introduced the session with a presentation on climate science, which Pete followed up with a presentation on solutions, including personal actions and the need for much better government policies. It was very encouraging to learn that the 18-hour ‘Caring for the Environment’ module covering science, geography and English was being offered over a period of 6 weeks, starting in the first week of secondary education for these pupils.
Dorchester One World Festival 11th Aug 2018
Dorset Community Energy shared an environmentally themed stand with the Churches Together Ecology Group at the annual Dorchester One World Festival.
In spite of showers it was a fun event, but something of a challenge for children to decorate solar powered paper plates using washable felt tip pens during a rain shower!
However it was very interesting to see the solar panels working well in the rain!!
Inspire Dorset community event in Dorchester
Pete West, the secretary and a director of Dorset Community Energy, was pleased to offer childrens’ solar workshops at the Inspire Dorset community event held in the Corn Exchange, Dorchester on Saturday 17th February.
The well-attended event was organised by an Inspire Dorset group supported by Dorset Community Action.
The overall project aim is to help participants learn new skills and build confidence in order to gain employment.
Local artists and craftspeople supported the community event, including offering hands-on craft workshops for children and families.
New schools to benefit from monitoring equipment
To date Dorset Community Energy has only been able to provide solar energy monitoring equipment and educational activities for a limited number of schools. Now, we have secured a grant of £1,750 from the Postcode Local Trust (a grant-giving charity funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery www.postcodelocaltrust.org.uk) for monitoring equipment to be installed in an additional 2-3 schools. The monitoring will allow pupils and staff to see how much electricity is generated by the solar panels each day and how much this compares with the electricity used by the school.
Solar energy experiments handbook for primary schools
Schools can borrow a box of solar experiments including solar panels and small motors and an associated resource guide. The experiments and guide have been developed by Alison Jay, the Dorset County Council Sustainable Schools Project Officer and a small group of Dorset Community Energy volunteers.
Simple experiments such as decorating a paper plate and mounting it on a small solar-powered motor have been a great success with younger pupils.
Children are fascinated by the way the spinning colours change as the solar panel is tilted at different angles to the sun. We also supply a multimeter so the children can see the voltage change as the decorated paper plate spins slower and faster.
Making a simple solar-powered model – video
Pete West, Dorset Community Energy secretary and a volunteer helping with educational activities, has produced a short video to demonstrate how to make a spinning paper plate solar model, which has proved popular with children of primary school age.
It’s great fun and helps kids understand how things work.
Monitoring the solar electricity generated
Dorset Community Energy has been piloting state-of-the-art monitoring systems to enable pupils and school staff to view the daily solar energy generation online from any computer in the school and via a wall -mounted display screen in the school foyer.
Where technically possible we have also installed energy metering to show grid electricity consumption and solar PV generation on the same screen. For example, the graph on the right shows daily grid consumption in red, solar PV generation in green and exported solar in yellow. We are delighted that the monitoring shows some schools are carbon neutral in electricity on sunny days and are using most of the solar generation within the school.